Trauma in the Timbers

When I was a little girl, we lived in a suburb of  San Diego, California. The particular suburb where we lived had once been wide open prairie land, which had been developed into subdivisions and strip malls about 10 years before we moved in. The thing about prairie land, as with all undeveloped places, things live there before the humans take up residence and tend to stick around after – things like rodents for instance.

Our house sat at the edge of a group of hills and unsurprisingly, the mice who had lived there before us viewed our home as a great place to come in out of the cool Southern California nights. One night I awoke to the presence of one of these home invaders, perched upon my cheek – it’s tail draped over my nose. You can imagine my shock and horror upon awakening.  I pretty much screamed the house down.  My mother (who is more afraid of mice than I) was forced to sleep with me for many nights following this encounter with every light in the house blazing.

Traps were set.

Cats were purchased.

Mice were caught and disposed of.

But nothing has removed the memory of that night, nor cured me of my deep seeded fear of mice.

Why do I share this deeply troubling scene from my childhood?  Because history has begun to repeat itself.

mouse-pest-control_0.jpgWe have a mouse.

I am choosing to call it only one mouse, because if I say the word MICE,  I may need to move into one of your homes permanently. I’m starting to hyperventilate while I type – the idea of multiple mice is about to send me in search of a paper bag to breathe into – except that would require me putting my feet on the floor – which I’ve not done in quite some time.

So here is the story.

Last night, we had a beautiful fire in the fire place and were cozy-ed up with our respective books. We had put the princess to bed about 30 minutes before and were thoroughly enjoying the quiet and warmth of our home.

About 10 p.m., we hear a terrified scream come from Arden’s room “MOOOOMMMMM!!!! There is a MOUSE IN MY ROOM!”

Now, let me give you a little background on my sweet daughter.

1. She is a bit of a collector of stuffed animals.  And when I say collector, I really mean a hoarder.  She has hundreds. Thousands maybe. And so, when she “sees” something in her room, I immediately assume one of those things has gotten wedged in a strange and anatomically incorrect position and this pose has caught Arden’s eye – causing her to assume something dangerous is coming to attack her. (Last week it was a tarantula – which it wasn’t. It was the hair of one of her dolls. So I don’t tend to react to these cries of alarm with much urgency.)

2. 10 p.m. is way past her bed time so I was annoyed.

3. She’s a drama queen.

But her father got up to take a look – and low and behold there WAS a mouse in there. At this point, I pulled my feet up on the recliner and tried some deep breathing techniques that did not work at all.  I tried to compose my face into a semblance of calm so that when Arden came in to yell and cry about the mouse in her room, I wouldn’t run screaming out of the house.  I cuddled her and told her Daddy would catch it and all would be fine.

He did not catch it. This failure in no way reflects his hunter abilities, rather it reflects the state of absolute disgusting chaos that is my child’s room.  Seriously, a family of skunks could live in there and I would have no idea for days – until I work up the gumption to go in and shovel out the stuff that has overtaken it. Honestly, I have no idea where all this STUFF comes from, but it keeps showing up and I keep throwing it all away. Sigh. The struggle is real.

Terry admitted defeat last night, turned off all the lights in her room and shut the door – vowing to catch it in the morning.  Arden slept in our bed with me and Terry took the guest room.  The only reason I was in anyway capable of staying in my house last night was the reassuring presence of Weezer the Fierce Guard Dog. More on THAT useless creature later.

This morning we got the Princess off to school and gathered cleaning supplies, trash bags, brooms, vacuum and all my nerve and attacked her room.  Our goal – remove anything that would be attractive to a mouse or (God forbid) mice. We cleaned, straightened, threw away, etc. We changed the sheets on her bed and moved it way from the wall to check behind it for the little fella. There was no sign of him, just a few droppings which sent me on another tangent about how I was going to throw away EVERYTHING in her room!

We were making great progress, assuming the mouse had retreated back out the way he came. His venture into our home just a scouting trip to see if there really was anything worth having in the room of doom!  We made plans to run out and get traps once our task was finished. The last part of cleaning involved pulling the trundle out from under the bed and making sure there wasn’t anything hiding in there.  I was pretty confident there wasn’t, because there isn’t that much clearance between the top of the trundle mattress and the bed frame. I forgot for a moment that mice have flexible spines.

Big mistake. Huge!

Terry pulled the trundle out and there, attached to the sheet, clinging for dear life was the mouse.

I let out a scream that was truly worthy of a slasher film and tried to jump onto Arden’s bed.  Now, Arden’s bed (as I mentioned) has a trundle under it – so the main bed is pretty high off the ground. So high in fact, that we had to buy a step stool so A can get on it.  I was standing at the foot of the bed, which has a foot board that comes about chest high on me.  So, trying to JUMP onto the bed was less than easy.  I got stuck about half way up, my rear end in the air, feet kicking, screaming at the top of my lungs – MOUSE!  My screams did die out eventually, but not because I stopped being terrified – no –  because I had succeeded in cutting off my air supply – suspended on the foot board as I was.

This is what her bed looks like – in a room that is clean! Not her’s. Obviously.

I’d like to take a moment here to say that I married a true gentleman.  He has not once, throughout this entire saga, laughed at my reaction to a mouse in the house.  Not even when I was teetering on the edge of the bed, my feet kicking for purchase in the air, screaming at the top of my oxygen deprived lungs. He just calmly assured me we will take care of it, and I believe him. I believe him because he has never lied to me AND I believe him, because if I didn’t U-Haul would already have a truck out here and we’d be checked into the local Comfort Inn.

The mouse, not surprisingly, went running for the closest corner. It did not drop dead from fright, which would really have been the best outcome for all of us humans.

About that time, curiosity aroused by the manic noises coming from the child’s room – my “guard dog” Weezer wanders in.  He makes NO attempt to catch the mouse – oh no – he barks and jumps to get up on the bed with me – he is in a word USELESS.

Terry once again tries to locate the mouse, but it ran into the closet and I guess is still in there, because once it wasn’t in my eye line, I jumped off Arden’s bed (much, much easier than jumping ON) and ran out of the room.

We have once again turned off all the lights and shut the door – we are making as much noise as we can in the rest of the house, trying to discourage wandering.

Traps will be purchased today.

Cat arrives tomorrow.

We’ll see if I am still living here come Sunday.

See ya soon.


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Mommy, Historian, Wannabe Writer.

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